Chapter 2

Public Information / Dissemination


This section provides for communication guidance in response to any serious or emergency situation affecting the University. It applies both to situations on campus and those involving members of the BVU community in university-related off-campus activities. Its purpose is to identify available resources and present general guidance about how to inform the University community, media and other concerned persons on the status of an emergency affecting Buena Vista University.


  1. A crisis may include emergency and non-emergency events:

    Emergencies include any situation that may involve or threaten to cause loss of life or injury to students, faculty or staff of BVU (fires, explosions, accidents, vehicular mishaps, or severe weather events) or significant property damage.

    Non-emergencies include any situation that threatens the reputation or stature of the college, poses legal ramifications, and that does not pose a direct physical threat to students, faculty, staff or property at BVU.

Assumptions and Planning Factors

  1. There are known groups of non English speaking people or visually impaired at the University. Any non-English speaking groups shall be identified, if possible, and interpreters for such languages be incorporated into this plan.
  2. In a period of increased threat of a peacetime disaster, or of a developing international crisis, public demand would develop for information on specific actions to improve chances of survival, safety, and protection of property.
  3. During and after a peacetime emergency, specific protective action information and advice to the public would be essential to maximize survival and protect property.

Organization / Responsibilities

  1. The public information activities are directed by the Public Information Officer (PIO). The PIO is responsible for the collection, coordination, and dissemination of emergency public information material to the campus population.
  2. The Public Information Officer has been appointed by, and is the official spokesperson(s) for, the University and is a member of the EOC Staff. The PIO will coordinate all public information activities with the President and the EOT.
  3. The PIO will appoint a supporting staff, as needed, to assist in the public information functions and ensure the capability of 24-hour operations, when required.
  4. Supporting staff responsibilities are:
    1. Assistant Public Information Officer: responsible for assisting the PIO in all functional areas and activities. Performs the function of the PIO in the absence of the PIO.
    2. Rumor Control Supervisor: responsible for the operation of the Rumor Control Center, ensures operators are kept updated, passes information collected to the PIO, establishes and oversees the monitoring of media coverage for accuracy and content, and advises the EOT.
    3. Logistics Coordinator:coordinates public information supplies and equipment requirements as well as volunteer support staff schedules, such as:
      1. Clerical support for the local Information Center
      2. Local Rumor Control Center operators
      3. Runners for Information Center

Concept of Operations

  1. At the time of disaster or impending disaster, the Public Information Officer, in coordination with the EOT, will ensure that the following is accomplished:
    1. A PIO Staff is appointed
    2. Locations are designated for:
      1. Information Center
      2. Media Release Point
      3. Rumor Control Center
  2. Coordination
    1. The public information program requires a coordinated flow of information from all levels of the University through a central release point to ensure that only accurate information is presented. This will be accomplished through:
      1. Establishing an Information Center where close coordination and exchange of information between all key staff and department heads and the PIO will be accomplished. The Information Center will be located in or adjacent to the EOC.
      2. Collecting, compiling, and verifying information at the University Information Center before authorizing releases.
      3. Releasing information to members of the media at the University Media Release Point in the EOC by the Public Information Officer or an authorized representative.
      4. A Rumor Control Center may be established where citizens having questions may call to receive accurate and verified information. The telephone numbers would be released by the media. The establishment of the Rumor Control Center must be coordinated with the Communications Officer to insure there is adequate telephone capabilities.
  3. Information Center
    1. The University Information Center, located adjacent to the EOC, will operate 24 hours a day during the disaster period as the central point of operations for the public information activities. it may include:
      1. Office space, appropriate supplies, and phones for the Public Information Officers
      2. Clerical support for typing news releases, keeping status boards current, etc.
      3. Runners to assist in hand carrying
      4. Monitors to monitor commercial broadcasts regarding disaster information and instructions being given to the public
    2. The Information Center will collect, correlate, and authenticate all disaster-related information, and develop material for release to the media and the campus.
    3. Instructions to the campus concerning protective actions will be released directly to the campus as coordinated by the PIO from the Information Center.
    4. The Information Center will oversee and keep the Rumor Center updated on disaster-related information for dissemination to the public in response to inquiries.
    5. The Information Center will monitor the media outlets to ensure the public is receiving accurate and timely information.
  4. Rumor Control Center
    1. The University Rumor Control Center, located in the Information Center will operate 24 hours a day during the disaster period answering inquiries from the public and passing information received to the Information Center and assistance requests to the EOC.
    2. Telephones required will be coordinated with the Communications Officer.
    3. Personnel may be University employees or volunteers.
  5. Media Release Point
    1. The University Media Release Point is the designated point where the PIO will conduct news briefings and conferences. The location of the media release point will be determined by specific circumstances of the emergency situation.
    2. Briefings and conferences will be held at intervals which will be determined at the time, depending upon the current situation.
  6. Resources
    1. Emergency Public Information Packet
      A package of emergency public information material may be stored by the Emergency Management Coordinator and maintained by the PIO. This package contains:

      Emergency Public information - Sample News Releases: articles, handouts, sample news releases and other publications pertinent to an emergency situation the Emergency Management Coordinator and Public Information Officer can utilize in preparing news releases for the media.

  7. Information Dissemination
    1. Radio and Television
      1. Information requiring immediate broadcast will be telephoned to directly to local media outlets. Routine information will be given to the media through the media release point briefings and news conferences.

Public information Emergency Response Checklist

Preparedness Phase

Public Information Officer

  • Alert Public information support staff
  • Update and confirm Public information resources
  • Release information to campus pertinent to preparing for threat/hazard expected
  • Establish liaison with all EOC officials
  • Keep local officials updated on all Public Information matters
  • Review dissemination and distribution systems to ensure maximum coverage to campus
  • Coordinate distribution procedures

Logistics Coordinator

  • Coordinate facility requirements for the Information Center
  • Coordinate requirements for the Media Release Point
  • Coordinate with Communications Officer on communications requirements, including anticipated needs for additional phones

Response Phase

Public Information Officer

  • Alert Public information Staff
  • Maintain contact with all EOC staff and advise Executive Staff on Public information matters
  • Implement media release point and set schedule for periodic briefings, as required
  • Confirm policy on admittance of news media to disaster area with EMT
  • Implement and assign personnel to Rumor Control Center
  • Release Rumor Control Center telephone numbers to news media
  • Coordinate release of all Public information Advisors and instructions with appropriate EOC staff

Logistics Coordinator

  • Ensure that supplies and equipment for Information Center are adequate and in place, as required
  • Advise Communications Officer of communications requirements (including additional telephones)

Recovery Phase

Public Information Officer

  • Provide to the campus instructions for the Recovery Phase
  • Notify evacuees it is safe to return to their rooms
  • Release safety measures and precautions applicable to hazard and recovery activities
  • Discontinue operation of Rumor Control Center, when appropriate
  • Notify campus where to call for seeking assistance or for special problems
  • Discontinue operation of Media Release Point
  • Discontinue operation of Information Center

Public Information Officer's Staff

  • Critique PIO activities with all PIO staff
  • Review PIO SOP and implement changes to correct problems and improve operations

Public information Resources

  • Radio
  • Television
  • Cable TV
  • Newspapers